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The Victorian Legal Services Board initiates investigation into Veronica Nelson’s lawyer following a coronial request

The head of the Victorian Legal Services Board has initiated a complaint and investigation into the conduct of a lawyer engaged to assist Aboriginal woman Veronica Nelson, who died in custody.

NOTE: The family of Veronica Nelson has been granted permission to use her name and image.

Melbourne barrister Tass Antos was engaged by the Law and Advocacy Center for Women to assist Ms Nelson after she was arrested for shoplifting-related offences.

The 37-year-old Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman died alone in her cell in a Melbourne prison on January 2, 2020.

Ms Nelson had represented herself in court at a hearing where she was refused bail in the days before her death, which coroner Simon McGregor described as “preventable”.

Handing down his findings in January, Coroner McGregor criticized Mr Antos, describing the legal service he provided as “inadequate”.

The coroner hands down the findings of an inquiry into Veronica Nelson's death
Coroner Simon McGregor found Mr Antos fell “short of the standard expected of a legal practitioner”.

In a statement, the Victorian Legal Services Board commissioner and CEO, Fiona McLeay, said calls to investigate Mr Antos’ legal conduct came after Coroner McGregor’s findings.

“As the regulator of the legal profession in Victoria, we believe everyone who exercises their basic right to have legal representation should also receive an appropriate standard of legal service,” Ms McLeay said.

“I have initiated a complaint and investigation of my own motion into the conduct of lawyer Tass Antos, following the finding by Coroner McGregor that the legal services he provided to

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Federal Labor removes gag on legal aid centers that banned political advocacy | Australian politics

The Labor government has removed the Coalition’s gag on legal aid organizations taking part in political advocacy and lobbying, saying it “is ending this political censorship”.

On Tuesday the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, announced the gag on community legal centers receiving federal funding had been removed from the deal with states and territories regulating legal aid, as part of Labor’s broader commitment to allow social, legal and environmental charities to lobby government .

The gag, introduced by the Abbott government in 2014, prevented legal aid centers at the coalface of social issues including welfare, family violence, housing and consumer law from seeking law reform, including specialist domestic violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.

Prior to 2014 the national legal assistance partnership stated that federal funding did not restrict the right of organizations “to enter into public debate or criticism of the commonwealth, its agencies, employees, servants or agents”.

In a statement Dreyfus said the Albanese government “is ending this political censorship and restoring independence and free speech to the community legal sector”.

“The government, and the Australian community can only benefit if legal assistance providers are able to speak up, and advocate for reform.

“Legal assistance providers are superbly well placed to provide advice on law reform and legal assistance.”

He said community legal centres, legal aid commissions, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services played a “crucial role” in ensuring all Australians could access justice systems.

“They understand better than most of the challenges in their sector and the impacts of unmet need on vulnerable Australians.”

Under changes to the 2020-25 national legal assistance partnership, agreed with states and territories, the government has also cut reporting requirements, including time accounting for each matter supported by federal funding.

Dreyfus said this would “ease the administrative

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